Managing Your Appointments
Doctor appointments can be stressful. Aside from not feeling well, factors such as anxiety, a lot of information provided too quickly, and unfamiliar medical language, can make appointments difficult.
Coming to your appointments prepared helps address some of this stress and ensures that you get the most out of your interactions with your health care providers.
That way you can get your questions answered and your needs met.
Preparing For Your Appointment (In-Clinic and Virtual)
Things to bring to your appointment:
- A list of your current symptoms, medications, and therapies
- All of your medications in their containers
- A list of questions to ask the health care team
- Tip: write down all your questions in a notepad or journal as you come up with them. This way you won’t forget any questions, and they will all be together in one place for easy reference.)
- Key personal information:
- Previous illnesses and surgeries
- Family history (especially heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure)
- Medical conditions (like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, previous heart attack or stroke)
- The names of other health care professionals involved in your care
- Information about recent hospitalizations or visits to the Emergency Department.
- Results of tests that have been done at other hospitals or since your last appointment with your health care provider.
- Clothes that may be readily removed if necessary
Ahead of your appointment, enquire about parking or public transportation possibilities. Ask about wheelchair accessibility if necessary.
Ask for an interpreter if you are concerned about understanding English or bring a translator if necessary.
Bring a family member or friend to help you and assist in remembering the information discussed.
What to Expect During Your Appointment
Your care team involves a number of people who are here to assist you. You may meet several health providers during your appointment, including:
Staff Cardiologist: Your primary doctor. They oversee your medical care.
Fellows: Cardiologists who are doing extra training in heart failure and who are involved in your care.
Nurse Practitioners: Registered Nurses who have completed a Master’s Nurse Practitioner degree program and have expertise in the management of heart failure. They can order tests and prescribe medications.
Registered Nurses: Nurses who have specialized knowledge in caring for patients with heart failure. They can administer intravenous medications in the clinic setting.
Medical Residents: Doctors who are doing training to become internal medicine specialists or cardiologists.
Registered Dieticians: They have advanced knowledge of nutrition and provide teaching and counseling to patients and families on how to manage heart failure with a healthy diet.
Exercise Physiologist: They perform and supervise cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
Medical students: Medical students who are studying to become doctors.
Researchers: The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at UHN is an academic teaching centre. You may be approached by a research assistant to participate in a study. Research is essential to advancing our understanding of heart failure. Visit our Research page to learn more about participating in research.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Appointment
There are many things you can do to get the most out of your appointment:
- Communicate. Tell your healthcare team about any concerns you have and ask questions if you want to know more.
- Bring support. A friend or family member can give you emotional support and can help you make choices. They can also help you gather information, take notes, and ask questions.
- Listen and take notes. You will hear lots of new information. Taking notes can help you absorb and understand what you hear.
- Take names. Writing down the names of the members of your health care team can help you get to know and recognize the people you will be working with.
- Be on time. Running late can be stressful, so make sure you leave yourself lots of time to get to your appointment. Being late to an appointment could lead to a shortened appointment time.
Develop a good partnership with your care team, especially your family doctor, electrophysiologist, and cardiologist. There are several ways you can help build a strong relationship:
- Be honest – answer questions truthfully about your symptoms and lifestyle (for example, any alcohol or recreational drug use).
- Ask for clarification every time you don’t understand something. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctors to repeat things.
- If you can’t understand what your doctor is explaining, ask them to explain it in better detail or in another way, possibly using pictures or brochures.
- Tell your care team about any personal changes, such as major life changes that could increase stress levels.
- Tell your care team about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking, as well as vitamins.
- Tell your care team about any medicine-related negative effects you’ve experienced. If your drug makes you feel sick or you think you might be allergic to it, inform your care team right away.
- Be open to suggestions like diet changes, weight loss, stress reduction, therapy, sleep aids, anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication, and exercise.
- Try your best to follow your care team’s instructions.
- If you are not satisfied with your care team, look for other doctors you like and trust, even if you must travel a long distance to see them.
What to Do After Your Appointment
Managing follow-up appointments
During your appointment, your doctor may suggest that you have additional therapy, tests, or procedures. This usually means your doctor referring you to a specialist or another healthcare practitioner. You’ll need to schedule more medical appointments after that. It’s possible that scheduling these extra appointments in the correct order is critical. Consult your doctor about this.
Your doctor may request that you return for a follow-up appointment to discuss your results, outcomes, and any ongoing therapy. When you know when your results will be ready, schedule this appointment.
If you’re seeing multiple doctors, let them know about the others and give them permission to discuss any information, treatment recommendations, or outcomes with them.
What if you run out of time?
Make a strategy to get the rest of your questions answered if you run out of time during your appointment. When you need more time to talk about anything, tell your doctor. If the doctor isn’t present, you should be able to speak with a nurse or an assistant. If no one else is available, try making another appointment to ask the remaining questions.
Take home any relevant information
It can be beneficial to take written or recorded information home with you, as these can assist you with remembering facts and directions after your appointment. You can take the following types of information home with you:
- Notes you or a family member or friend took during the consultation. It’s fine if you take notes on what your doctor tells you – your doctor is a reliable source of correct information. You can also request that your doctor take notes for you.
- Your doctor’s written instructions (if possible, ask if they can be emailed to you).
- Any relevant materials such as instructions, brochures, or educational materials.